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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 1st July 2016 > HILLARY CLINTON’S BIGGEST CHALLENGE IF SHE MAKES IT TO THE WHITE HOUSE: FIGURING OUT WHAT TO DO ABOUT BILL

HILLARY CLINTON’S BIGGEST CHALLENGE IF SHE MAKES IT TO THE WHITE HOUSE: FIGURING OUT WHAT TO DO ABOUT BILL

It could go this way: The FLOTUS office has been converted to a man cave. The boudoir-peach paint is covered with dark paneling. Heavy green drapes block out the sun, the better to channel-surf on that huge flat-screen. Sometimes there’s a sweaty towel draped over the treadmill, since the first man exercises at odd hours and the staff can’t keep up. There’s a dog bed in a corner, and an antique brass spittoon welcomes the ashes of anyone who fires up a cigar (the host stopped lighting up years ago but keeps some Cohibas around for his bros).

All the President’s Men

There’s beer in the mini-fridge and Scotch and a bucket of ice on the trolley. He can often be found jawing in this dark den with congressional leaders who need a little Southern charm to get them behind the Hillary Clinton stimulus package, or sharing dirty jokes with Putin, Erdogan, Hollande and any other male world leader eager to chill after his official meetings with the no-nonsense president of the United States.

Or it could go like this: The peach paint stays. The first man eases himself behind the desk where Jackie Kennedy once penned thank-you notes. (He picked it because of his admiration for JFK.) He runs his eyes down a briefing paper on the day’s activities: photo ops with the wives of the leaders of the Caribbean Basin, a vegan lunch at a middle school for his Childhood Obesity Awareness Initiative, some spinning time (he took Michelle Obama’s spot at the gym) and finally an evening at the Kennedy Center to honor the last performance of the American Ballet Theatre’s retiring prima ballerina. Despite his reputation, the first man is an abstemious and quiet fellow now and enjoys checking the lists the White House social secretary sends him to sign off on—menus and floral arrangements, although he refuses to be involved in the negotiations over the new White House china pattern.

Hillary Clinton has already made history as the first woman who will be nominated by a major party to run for president. It’s a historic challenge, but if she wins, she instantly confronts another vexing dilemma: What does her husband do for the next four years? Will he be a White Hausfrau or a POTUS without portfolio? The enormous question of “What to do Bill?” has been hanging over Hillary’s campaign for the White House since it started. No one knows the answer. The only sure thing is that Bill will be the most powerful first spouse in American history. And very possibly the most successful, or the most destructive.

As popular as Bill is in many parts of America and the world, most of Hillary’s baggage—besides Benghazi and those pesky emails—bears the WJC monogram. President William Jefferson Clinton’s welfare reform made life worse for the poor. His criminal justice reforms threw a generation of black men behind bars. His cash-raking Clinton Foundation has an appearance of conflict of interest. And the whole sex addiction thang, the Gennifers and Monicas and those post-presidential joyrides on the babe-filled private jets (one nicknamed “Air Fuck One”)—she has been made to answer for all of it. And will surely be flayed for it many times by the Republican nominee during their full-contact debates.

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About Newsweek International

PUTIN'S SECRET WEAPON Every day, the red line ticks up and down. Some weeks it trends higher, others lower. It measures the most important vital sign of Russia’s body politic: the popularity of Vladimir Putin. In the Kremlin they call it the reiting, the Russian pronunciation of rating and the reiting rules supreme over all the nation’s political and economic decisions. When it stands as it did in late May at a comfortable eighty two percent, Russia’s elite breathes easy. When it dips as low at sixty two percent, as it did in 2011 when Putin announced his return for a third presidential term every resource is scrambled to reverse the trend at any cost. In recent times, that has meant anything from staging a lavish Olympic Games to taking the country to war in Ukraine and Syria.
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